Rising through the ranks

September/October 2016 edition

Since starting at Taylor Nicholas, Daniela Grech has done it all – from reception through to managing a high-performing commercial property management team. Here’s the story of her career journey.

By Helen Hull

Some would say that working for a single company for 16 years is a bad career move, but Daniela Grech stands tall as an example of true success.

“I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t do things in half measures,” she said. “I’m driven, but not by money. I want to make sure that my clients are happy and are staying with us. That drives me more than money.”

Daniela knows how fortunate she is to have found her place at Taylor Nicholas. Her ambition has seen her take on a wide range of roles at the well-known agency which specialises in the non-residential property segment – including receptionist, sales support, marketing and property management. She is now Executive – Management & Leasing at Taylor Nicholas.

“I’ve done almost everything there is to do at Taylor Nicholas at different stages of my career,” she said. Daniela even designed the company’s first website in the early 2000s after putting up her hand and being sent to do a Dreamweaver course to create and manage it. Today one of her additional tasks is the company’s social media and writing blogs.

“They’ve always allowed me to move my way around the agency and I think, in a way, we’ve evolved together over the last 16 years. When I first started working in an admin role, Taylor Nicholas had 12 staff across four offices. Now I’m Executive – Management & Leasing and they’ve grown to seven offices with more than 30 staff.

“I’ve been told that working for the one employer for such a long time doesn’t look good on my CV, but because of the broad range of roles I have performed I think that shows my versatility, and how adaptable and ambitious I am.”

Starting out
As a teenager, Daniela wasn’t really interested in formal education and left high school early. “When I left school, I worked at McDonalds. My mum was a single mother and we couldn’t afford much. I wanted to earn money and the idea of working part time was appealing to me.”

It wasn’t long before Daniela found herself looking for something more challenging, so she went to an employment agency looking for job opportunities. “They ended up employing me themselves as a recruiter. It was a big company, the pay was terrible and the experience was heart breaking,” Daniela remembered.

“I could see there were jobs in other companies that I could do which were offering double the money I was being paid. So I went to the national director and told him the company needed to pay their staff better.”
Daniela’s gumption led her to an admin role at One.Tel and then later to Taylor Nicholas.

“I wasn’t really looking to get into real estate at that stage. It was more a case of real estate finding me,” she said. “When I left One.Tel, I was 19 and not really focused on a future career. I was tired of travelling into the CBD and knew I wanted to work closer to my home in Newtown. That’s when I saw an office admin role at Taylor Nicholas advertised.

“When I first started at Taylor Nicholas, I hadn’t thought that I could have a career in real estate,” Daniela said. “I always felt real estate was highly male dominated and being so young it intimidated me, so I didn’t think of it as something that could become my profession.”
Daniela mentioned her concerns to one of directors, who was quite blunt in his response. “He said: ‘That’s ridiculous. There are lots of women in real estate – and very successful ones at that! Don’t let it hold you back’. 

“This made me think ‘maybe this is something I can do’. The natural progression was a move into commercial property management and I began doing that at the same time as looking after reception. I went into sales and leasing after getting married, having a baby and taking maternity leave. I also helped out with the marketing.

“After my second child, I felt like it wasn’t the right time in my life to return to sales. I was instead drawn back to commercial property management where I thrive. I really enjoy the loyalty associated with this area of real estate where you create and maintain the relationships.”

Current career
In her current role Daniela helps manage a portfolio of 450 properties with a monthly rental collection worth several million dollars. Her largest account is the University of Sydney Student Union and its portfolio of some 30 tenants, including a variety of businesses from banks and retailers to dentists and a pharmacy. Daniela has two staff members who report to her and she enjoys the challenge of inspiring those coming up through the ranks. 

“I’m currently fostering the new breed of managers who are learning about the industry. I’m mentoring them not only from a company perspective, but also a personal perspective,” she said.

“I’ve had mentors in the form of directors Peter Taylor and Nicholas Spasevski, who are generous with their time and knowledge. I think that’s why they have such a high retention of staff and it has helped me remain loyal to the brand.”

While a long-term career was far from Daniela’s mind when she was starting out, today she is well and truly looking ahead to the future.

“My immediate future lies here at Taylor Nicholas. With my 16 years’ experience working for the brand, I have a unique insight into all aspects of the business. I would like to guide any new team members in the ‘Taylor Nicholas way’. 

“I get up every morning and I’m excited about the here and now. It’s a great place to be.”
Tips for moving up in real estate

Daniela remembers all too clearly what it was like for her when she was just starting out in the industry. She shares her top tips on how those working in admin can make the step up in their career.

  • Always ask questions
  • Take pride in everything you do
  • Have systematic procedures for everything
  • Always return phone calls
  • Prioritise your day
  • Stay up to date and keep learning
  • Put your hand up for additional tasks.